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This chapter examines the importance of law and the rule of law by looking at real-life situations through the lens of theoretical models that consider why people obey the law and how judges interpret the law. The chapter considers when and why citizens and elected officials follow the law. It then moves to the conditions under which this obedience of laws falls. It also explores the importance of courts and judges in interpreting the law, and analyses the interaction of politics and law as a way to try to understand how judges come to their decisions. In particular, it looks at the interaction between national and European Union (EU) law.

Chapter

Nathaniel Copsey and Karolina Pomorska

This chapter examines the pattern of Poland’s relations with the European Union during the period 1989–2011. Poland took an early decision in 1989 to place European integration at the centre of its plans for democratization and modernization. Post-accession opinion in Poland on the EU was initially divided between an increasingly Europhile public and an occasionally Eurosceptic political class. By the time of the Polish Presidency of the EU in 2011, however, Poland had largely shed its reputation for awkwardness and had achieved a few policy successes, particularly in relations with its Eastern neighbours. The chapter explains how Poland came to join the EU and assesses the impact of its EU membership on domestic politics, public opinion, institutions, governance, and public policy. It concludes by considering the re-emergent divide between elite and public attitudes since the 2015 elections and tensions with the EU over the rule of law.

Chapter

14. The European Union  

A Constitutional Order in the Making

Berthold Rittberger

This chapter examines how the European Union acquired distinctive constitution-like features. It begins with a discussion of three routes to constitutionalization: the first is through changes in the EU's primary law; the second focuses on ‘in between’ constitutionalization; and the third leads directly to the European Court of Justice and its jurisprudence. The chapter proceeds by discussing two developments that have shaped the EU constitutional order almost since the beginning: the emergence of a body of EU law constituting a set of higher-order legal rules, and the consolidation of the constitutional principle of representative democracy. It explains how the supremacy and direct effect of EU law, as well as the EU court's concern with the protection of fundamental rights, helped transform the EU into a constitutional polity. It also considers how the extension of the legislative, budgetary, and other powers of the European Parliament animated the constitutional principle.

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This chapter focuses on the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which comprises two courts: the CJEU and the General Court. It first provides an overview of the CJEU’s structure and functions, and then discusses some of its main rulings and their significance. It further considers rulings on the powers of the institutions, some key legal judgments made in response to questions referred to the CJEU by national courts, the impact of CJEU rulings on EU policy, and post-Maastricht trends in the CJEU and EU law. It also assesses the evolving political reactions towards the judgments of the Court, along with the debate over whether the member states have been able to effectively curb the CJEU’s radical jurisprudence.

Chapter

Sabine Saurugger and Fabien Terpan

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is one of the key institutions in the European political system, and amongst the less well known. Described as one of the most powerful international courts, and perceived as one of the reasons the UK left the European Union (EU) (their main argument being that they did not want to be held to account by an unelected and non-British court), the Court continues to be shrouded in mystery. The aim of this chapter is to facilitate an understanding of the structure, history, and workings of this Court, as a key actor in the EU’s institutional system. As such, it is not only a judicial actor but a ‘political’ actor too. Its constitutional role, as well as its role during the economic and financial crisis, illustrates these multiple facets.

Chapter

This chapter evaluates global governance and how it relates to international law. It addresses the role of international organizations in processes of global governance, charting their rise from the nineteenth century onwards. Two international organizations exemplify semi-legalized governance beyond the state: the United Nations and the European Union. Sovereign states, of course, continue to play a central role in the institutions, processes, and mechanisms of global governance. The chapter then explores the extent to which a state’s power, influence, and legitimacy are affected by factors such as its domestic political arrangements and its adherence to the liberal, Western values that underpin the postwar order. It also assesses whether the proliferation of legalized and semi-legalized global governance regimes amounts to a constitutionalization of international relations.